From Maine to Southwest Florida and Braking for Graveyards Along the Way…


This road trip took six days and 1900 miles with lots of stops to check out historic landmarks and visit as many old graveyards and cemeteries as possible.  

 For years our family has been curious about the early settlements of eastern Long Island’s North Fork.  From Maine, my husband Brian and I drove to New London, CT, and boarded the ferry to Orient Point. This saved us about 230 miles of driving. Upon arrival, we headed west along the main road to historic Southold, settled in 1640. Although many of the earliest grave markers have since been destroyed, there were many old stones dating back to the mid 17th century. In Southold we found the Hanna Griffing stone, dated April 20,1699. Although many of the earliest markers have since been destroyed, there were many old stones dating back to the 17th century

We had to pack a lot into the few hours allotted for traveling through the North Fork and each and every time we wanted to rub a stone, it rained. Such is the luck of the gravestone rubber!  Our only satisfaction is that since this part of Long Island affiliated itself with New England, we found familiar carving styles attributed to the Lamson and the Stevens families. The Esther Hallock stone (1775) is a wonderful example of a Stevens stone and very similar to those carved by the Stevens family found in Newport, Rhode Island.


If it had been a beautiful sunny day, we would not have had the time to stop and visit the wonderful people at the Southold Historical Society. Southold has a popular educational program for children utilizing rubbing gravestones to learn about life in the past.  It’s always a pleasure to meet face to face with customers who entertain such important educational programs and use our rubbing supplies.

Our destination the next day was Fredericksburg, VA, often referred to as American’s most historic city. It was a gorgeous day and with a few hours of daylight remaining, we set out to explore the Civil War battle sites and historic graveyards. Fredericksburg was the target of the Union Army’s 1862 winter offensive. We spent part of the afternoon at the visitors’ center and walking the lovingly maintained trails including the curious sunken road at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial. 



                   The Visitor Center, Fredericksburg War Memorial

Some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War with thousands of casualties occurred in this area of Virginia between 1862 and 1864 as General Ulysses S. Grant marched his troops towards Richmond, VA.

In Fredericksburg, we were able to walk around the Fredericksburg City Cemetery adjoining the Confederate Cemetery.  There are monuments and markers for hundreds of Confederate soldiers, outstanding civic leaders, educators, businessmen and citizens. All of these former citizens of Fredericksburg are buried amid the beautiful southern magnolias, mature trees, lush green lawns and beautifully maintained stones.  Apparently, it wasn’t always that way until in 1925 the formation of the City Cemetery Company Auxiliary was formed to revitalize the cemetery and preserve and honor the memories of those whose lives enriched Fredericksburg.



Confederate grave markers at the Confederate Cemetery in Fredericksburg, VA. 




                                   The Fredericksburg City Cemetery


           The Masonic Cemetery, Fredericksburg, VA.


As we drove to Richmond, VA, the next morning I couldn’t helping thinking about General Grant marching his troops to Richmond during the Civil War; the city ravaged and so many Confederate and Union soldiers losing their lives.  My melancholic thoughts were enhanced as we drove through the “Shockoe Bottom” district of Richmond to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum and shrine.


What could be better than visiting the museum just a few days before Halloween? 





The museum is the oldest building within the city limits of Richmond and was constructed in 1740. The Poe shrine (part of the enchanted museum garden) was unveiled officially on the centennial of Poe’s birth, January 19, 1909. The history of the museum, the Poe shrine and all the artifacts on display, including the contents of Poe’s trunk, believed to contain all his possessions at the time of his death, are truly fascinating. For more information, go to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum site.




       The Poe Shrine  (Note the “Tell-Tale Heart” Halloween decoration)




A view of the Poe shrine from the Enchanted Garden, decorated for Halloween.




    Enchanted garden door leading to the Poe Memorial.




        Memorial to Edgar Allan Poe presenters by New York actors. 




We had time to visit a very small section of Richmond and I look forward to returning and spending more time in the other historic districts of Richmond and perhaps rubbing the plaques on the monuments of Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. Again, so much history, so little time.


However, St. John’s Churchyard, established in 1741, one of Richmond’s oldest cemeteries was our next “must” stop and still in the “Shockoe Bottom” district.This is the cemetery where Poe’s impoverished actress mother died when we was two years old. Elizabeth Arnold Poe was buried in an unmarked grave here in 1811. In 1928, one hundred and seventeen years after her death, The Poe Foundation, the Raven Society, and the Actors’ Equity erected a monument on the approximate location of her previously unmarked grave. The bronze medallion incorporates a portrait of Elizabeth holding an urn from which a raven flies and the statement, “The Birth of Genius.” 




                                     Elizabeth Arnold Poe’s Memorial 




The church is also famous for being the site of the 2nd and 3rd Virginia Conventions including the one in which Patrick Henry stated,…”Give me liberty or give me death!”  On the other hand, Benedict Arnold quartered his troops at the church. We found the table monument for Edward Carrington who was a famous Virginia statesman and politician.  We couldn’t resist rubbing his plaque...




          The plaque to Edward Carrington and a rubbing of the plaque.




 We were limited to visiting only part of the graveyard because a crew of workmen were pruning and removing large tree limbs. Again, such is the luck of a gravestone rubber.


Back on the road – next stop Asheville, North Carolina, and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and Smokey Park Highway. Along one of the Smoky Mountain Parkways




                                        Another fabulous view




  We have to return to Asheville, one of America’s great cities and dubbed the Paris of the South.  Such a vibrant city and so easy to get caught up in the Halloween mood, including an Asheville Human Society’s Adoption benefit dog and cat event. Again,there just wasn’t enough time to do everything, see everything, rub anything and visit Thomas Wolfe’s boyhood home. The Great American author was born in Asheville in 1900 and died at the age of 38.His gravestone has a quote from his novel, “Look Homeward Angel” and reads,“The Last Voyage, The Longest,The Best” Guess we’ll have to get back to Asheville as well as the North Fork of Long Island, Fredericksburg, and Richmond and plan to pick up where we left off in each city.


The last leg of our journey was non-stop to Port Charlotte,FL.There’s lots of history to record here and we’re well stocked with rubbing paper and wax to record as much as possible while we’re here enjoying the warm Florida sun.


We would be glad to share your comments or suggestions regarding places to visit. We have a return trip to look forward to some time soon so any insider information where rubbing is a must would be much appreciated.


Happy Rubbing and Cheerio,